Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reasons to Preserve Buildings

Diane Keaton wrote an editorial for the Los Angeles Times, looking back on the unsuccessful fight to save the Ambassador Hotel. She listed reasons--green, economical reasons--why preservation makes more sense than new construction. Here's one I was surprise to learn: "construction of new structures alone consumes 40% of the raw materials that enter our economy every year. "

So pierce my ears and call me drafty...I didn't know that! But here's a breakdown. Per the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED Certification--

In the United States alone, buildings account for:

  • 70% of electricity consumption,
  • 39% of energy use,
  • 39% of all carbon dioxide emissions,
  • 40% of raw materials use,
  • 30% of waste output
  • 12% of potable water consumption.

Admittedly, this list--from an Alcoa newsletter--doesn't differentiate between new building or additions, repairs, etc. when giving that raw materials figure. Here's another quote, from Lafarge's Sustainable Development page:

  • The environmental challenge: when a building's total lifecycle is considered, the construction industry:
  • is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions and waste in developed countries,
  • accounts for 40 % of the energy demand in these countries.

Can you tell my google included 40%?

Be that as it may, I would love to see a side-by-side comparison of (column a) the cost of erecting a new building, including clearing the real estate of previous buildings, and the entire construction costs, and (column b) the cost of remediating/renovating/remodelling an older structure into something equally usable. And maybe a note about maintenance costs for each.

No comments: